Most often the first thing that comes to mind when someone hears the name ‘Sacha Baron Cohen’ is “Oh, the dude from Borat!”. The actor, who has played characters such as Ali G, Bruno, and of course, Borat, gained his permanent recognition after the release of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan back in 2006. In the film, he duped countless people all across the US, with only a few scenes (such as the kidnapping of Pamela Anderson) being fake. His film gained immense popularity, for both bringing out the honest truth from people, and being hilarious at the same time.
Now he’s back, but this time with a TV show. Taking the role of four different characters (Ricky Sherman, Dr. Nira Cain-N’Degeocello, Billy Wayne Ruddick, and Erran Morad), he goes around to people of a variety of political backgrounds, anywhere from small-town folk to big-time politicians, tricking them into absurd (and sometimes career-ending) situations. This comes into to play when he “teaches” controversial House Rep Jason Spencer Krav Mga, causing the man to shout the N-word and run into him with his bare behind.
Of course, this time it is much harder for Cohen to pull off. With his popularity, more people may recognize him, which has happened in the case of trying to dupe a gun shop owner, who recognized him under all the prosthetic makeup. In another, actually filmed case, part of his prosthetic actually came off, but the couple he was trying to dupe played good sportsmanship and kept running with it. Now that Borat is so recognizable, Cohen needs to use more prosthetics, and be much more careful in how he acts, as to not ruin the joke.
His jokes, however, can be quite brutal, but it’s exactly what the nation needs. He makes fun of both liberals and conservatives, calling out the absurdities on both side, and exaggerating stereotypes in order to confuse and make fun of whomever he’s with. It also shows the audience how absurd people can be, and while some think what he’s doing is too far over the edge, it’s a nice break from the safer political comedy that we’ve seen in the past few years. Everyone else has played it safe, and it’s refreshing to see someone who takes safe and rubs it into the ground.
The best part is, his “offensive humor” is not really all that offensive. It’s how the people take his comments and react that show the ugly side of the comedy. That’s what makes his humor especially genius. He gives people an inch and they take it an run a mile, duping themselves in the process. It leads to some interesting situations (actual police roll up to a ‘staged’ Quinceanera that Cohen had tricked some men into making in order to “trap” illegal immigrants. On a sign out front, he posted their words of what they thought the immigrant would be expecting, and setting up the situation to look like they were trying to lure young girls.
The best part is, he wasn’t the one who came up with the situation: the men were. They thought of what when down at a Quinceanera, and what to do in order to drug and deport any “illegals”. They duped themselves, while he sat on the sidelines. He shows the absurdity of such racism, and how it can easily turn against them.
His form of comedy is, in my opinion, exactly what we need; something brutal and honest, showing the worst sides of everybody in order to get a laugh. And it does, in some cases, show the worst side of everybody (from blatant racists to crazy social justice warriors). No one is safe, and I’m excited to see how the show goes on.